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SLOVAK WORD OF THE WEEK

Zeman

THERE has been so much talk about the election of Miloš Zeman as Czech president this week that it almost overshadowed all the news about the personnel selections our local zeman (squire) has been making. Political nominations say as much about an administration as its policies or scandals. So let’s look at what sort of people are working for Robert Fico’s cabinet.

THERE has been so much talk about the election of Miloš Zeman as Czech president this week that it almost overshadowed all the news about the personnel selections our local zeman (squire) has been making. Political nominations say as much about an administration as its policies or scandals. So let’s look at what sort of people are working for Robert Fico’s cabinet.

There is vice premier Ľubomír Vážny, who had to wait over half a year to get the job because no one knew exactly what he'd be doing in his newly created post of deputy prime minister for large investments. These concerns have been confirmed – after two months in office the man doesn’t even have a website, let alone any tangible results. Smer now says Vážny will be in charge of European funds.

That sounds more like a threat than a promise, given that he was responsible for one of the most controversial tenders under Fico I, in which the state managed to purchase what was by far the most expensive highway toll system offered.

Then there is Sociálna Poisťovňa boss Dušan Muňko. Before 1989 he not only ran big state firms, but also helped out the communist secret service. So you can understand why he feels he can take on two jobs at once. But simultaneously running the country’s pension system and sitting in parliament? That probably requires very long working hours. Or, a very relaxed attitude.

Sometimes, it’s not who you appoint, but who you fail to, that counts. Smer's nomination of Juraj Kalina for head of the Nation’s Memory Institute seemed too good to be true, which is exactly what it turned out to be. Apparently, many in the ruling party felt offended by Kalina’s criticism of wartime president Jozef Tiso, who was responsible for the deportations of Jews to death camps.

This short list provides a nice illustration of which types of people are acceptable to Fico's party and which are not. Still, their popularity remains unrivalled. And it is Smer that is likely to put up the candidate that will, in a few months’ time, become Zeman’s counterpart.

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